Since the weather has turned into full summer, I’ve been paying attention to the number of bees and bumblebees visiting my garden. Not that many bees, but definitely more bumblebees than honey bees. I’ve seen several documentaries on the plight of pollinators world-wide, so I started researching various sites on the internet that deal with bee-keeping and the study of bees. I’m interested in colony collapse disorder and the complex reasons that are contributing to the demise of our bee populations. It is astounding to think that at the height of summer, there can be between 35,000-50,000 bees in just one colony. Thus the devastation of just one colony means an incredible number of losses.
I started drawing dead bees, using an encaustic paint made with bees’ wax and pigment, and enjoyed drawing 3 or 4 of these compositions. I liked the fact that the wax made the bees stand out in a slight relief, and I liked the fact that I was using bees’ wax to draw the bees, but I needed to find another way of representing the bees, that would address the both the vast numbers of bees in a colony and some of the factors contributing to the demise of the bee populations.
I am familiar with the work of a number of artists whose practice includes the study of bees, most notably Aganetha Dyck and Elizabeth MacKenzie. Both artists’ work focuses on bees that are active and alive.